This Pune-based waste management park is promoting green practices for a sustainable future

Launched in 2017, TEFF’s Suhana Farms is addressing the waste management issue in India by spreading awareness on the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling, and up-cycling waste.

Due to rapid urbanisation and increasing population, we are seeing a lot of domestic, chemical, and industrial waste being generated across the country. This waste, when left untreated, can lead to many problems, including the spread of harmful diseases.

According to a recent study by civil digital, India produces around 42 million tonnes of waste annually, and the per capita waste is increasing by 1.3 percent per annum.

The key to efficient waste management is to ensure its segregation at the source - either through recycling, minimisation, or proper disposal.

To address this issue, The Eco Factory Foundation (TEFF), an NGO founded by Anand Chordia in 2016, created the country’s first-ever waste management park called Suhana Farms, Yawat near Pune.

Founder of Eco Factory Foundation, Anand Chordia.

It aims to make citizens aware about the importance of proper waste disposal for a clean, green, and sustainable future.

Today, a number of institutes and organisations across the nation have tied up with TEFF to ensure effective waste management. These include SNDT College of Home Science, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Iskcon Temple, Katraj, Pune, and IIT Tirupati to name a few.

A green park

Suhana Farms mainly focusses on spreading awareness on the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling, and up-cycling waste.

The team met a number of scientists and did a lot of research before setting up the park. The park was built to provide information on an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle to both the rural and urban sectors.

The waste management park.

It also brings together different methodologies invented and utilised by various NGOs, and showcases them on a single platform. It offers informative videos and hands-on activities to help visitors grasp concepts better.

“I always believed waste is wealth and we need to do something to manage it. We should utilise it to create something better out of it; and this will also prevent us from dumping waste in communities or burn it. I decided to come up with a plan, and do a thorough audit to see how much waste we are generating, and if there is e-waste, plastic waste, biodegradable waste, how best do we segregate it. I wanted to see how much we produce, what we produce, when we produce, and how best we can provide solutions,” says Anand.

The park charges an entrance fee in the range of Rs 100-Rs 1,200 per visit, and for those who cannot afford, it is free of cost. The park has also undertaken a number of sustainable initiatives such as the Urban Farming Skill Development Centre, Sustainable Farming Skill Development and Rural Entrepreneurship Centre, as well as the Urban Farming Skill Development Centre.

Early challenges

“The biggest challenge was making our own people - people working in the factory and farmers - realise the importance of managing waste. Technology has also been a problem when it comes to dealing with plastics,” he says.

Speaking about overcoming challenges, he says, “There are still challenges and there are a lot that remain, but that is the beauty of it, we try to solve it, look for solutions, and move forward.”

Founding story

Apart from The Eco Factory Foundation, Anand also established India’s first Waste Management Park - Learning and Awareness Centre - in Pune in 2017, to train people and enlighten them about effective waste management practices.

He is a member of the Research Council of CSIR Institutes at Johrat, Lucknow, and Palampur, and has been invited as a motivational speaker and as a guest of honor by IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, and Ministry of Industries to name a few.

Anand graduated from Ferguson College in Botany, and did his post graduation in Food Science and Technology from University of Auckland.

To begin with, in 2003, he worked at Suhana Spices, an agro-based industry, which was his family business. He says, it enabled him to learn a lot about food processing, agriculture, and farmer inclusivity.

“I was working at Suhana, but at the back of my mind I always thought about what do we do with the waste we produce, and how to really work on the agricultural sector, practice sustainability, and make a change in this sector,” he says.

In 2014, he decided to venture into sustainability, faming, agriculture, and waste management more rigorously. He started practicing this on farms, in industries, and at his home.

“Before founding Eco-Factory Foundation, I had been working on farming and sustainability for some time. After my education, I worked on a farm, which was based on the concept of perma culture (permanent agriculture) that works on sustainable design principles, on how one can design and build farms while respecting the nature behind it. I realised that India needs this in a big way,” says Anand.

Waste segregation at the park.

Road to sustainable future

In last two and half years, over 10,000 people have visited TEFF’s learning and awareness centre. This includes students, professors, corporates, government officials, and common people.

According to Anand, on-site visits, participating in campaigns at national level, off campus trainings, and the NGO’s presence on social media platforms has enlightened many about waste management.

In Suhana alone, with the help of TEFF, Biogas has replaced LPG by 50 percent in its canteens, root zone water treatment has saved water by 30,000 litres/day, and waste has been recycled and used in farming activities.

Further, they have recycled 20,000 MT of biodegradable waste in the last five years through composting and mulching, which has resulted in the increase of nutritional value of crop produce, which won Suhana many awards as well.

Students learning about waste management at the park.

Future plans

Speaking about their future plans, Anand says, “We are planning to start information sessions on wheels for waste management, sustainable farming, and rural entrepreneurship, where we will be taking resources to individuals and cities to create a larger impact.”

The organisation is also about to launch India’s first waste management directory called ‘Green Pages’, which will be a resource book to refer about waste management.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)